Sian Berry speaking at Green Party conference

Green Party of England and Wales members today voted for a motion which seeks to centre workers and trade unions in the party’s climate policies. The motion also sought to ensure that any changes to the party’s democratic structure build upon the existing Green Party trade union group and the work of the party’s trade union liaison officer in seeking to strengthen relationships with organised labour.

The motion stated that the Green Party will build “on the position of the Trade Union Liaison Officer (TULO) and the Green Party Trade Union group in any reorganisation mandated by its own democratic procedures” and ensure “that workers and a Just Transition are centre stage in policy formation in respect to our number one remit to save the planet and building the green economy.”

Matthew Hull, chair of the Green Party’s trade union group celebrated the passing of the motion. He told Bright Green that working with trade unions and workers is “essential” for delivering a just transition:

The Green Party has a strong record of standing with trade unions. I am incredibly proud that party members have chosen to redouble their efforts to empower the labour movement in its mission to transform society for people and planet.

To win a just transition in the face of opposition from the rich and powerful, we need working people to be the most enthusiastic supporters of radical Green politics that would transform their workplaces and communities.

Working with their trade unions is essential to making that happen. Ahead of proposed changes to the Green Party Constitution in the extraordinary conference in May, party members have rightly chosen to emphasise the importance of building on the existing position of the Trade Union Liaison Officer on [the Green Party Executive], as absolutely necessary to building strong relationships with the labour movement.

Party members overwhelmingly backed the motion with 333 voting in favour and just 8 against. The vote took place as members are convening for the Green Party’s conference held virtually due to Covid restrictions.

A first for a major political party

This wasn’t the only significant motion passed by party members today, however. The Greens also became the first major political party to call for the end of carbon intensive blast furnaces in steel production and instead invest in electric arc furnaces melting scrap steel to minimise the amount of carbon released from the industry.

Speaking on the motions passed at conference today, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry said this was necessary to reduce emissions as much as possible before 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change. She told Bright Green:

We simply cannot arrive at a net-zero carbon emission economy if we continue to make steel from blast furnaces. The COP climate summit is this year and the government should be putting new investment into alternatives now if we are to hold our heads up as hosts for the rest of the world.

We also have to seize this chance to protect workers and create new jobs in greener industries. The comprehensive Green New Deal we are pushing for could create millions of jobs while also protecting our future.

The Green Party’s conference is set to conclude on Sunday. Members will be debating a series of motions on topics including a wealth tax as a means of delivering post-Covid economic recovery, and the rights for trans people to be able to legally determine their own gender.

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